A call to transform the way we think about property, this book examines how capitalism has from its origins sought to enclose or privatize the commons, or land and other forms of property that had been viewed as communally owned, and argues that neoliberal economic policies and the corporate takeovers of urban spaces, prisons, schools, the mass media, farms, and natural resources have failed to serve the public interest. A study of corporate globalization and the continuation of empire after the era of political decolonization, it begins with the fencing of the West starting in the 1870s, and moves to examine recent phenomena such as urbanization, mass incarceration, financialization, and the treatment of people as commodities in the context of the longue durée of land enclosures, empire, and capitalism. Highlighting the threatened elimination of the public domain as a result of corporate efforts to privatize public utilities, prisons, schools, forests, seeds, and just about everything else that can yield a profit, Barbed Wire: Capitalism and the Enclosure of the Commons asks what it would mean if, instead of either private or public property, our most fundamental conception of property were communal. Would a redefinition of property from a community perspective lead us beyond the military-industrial complex?
Table of Contents
1. Modern Fencing
2. Urban Spaces
3. Caging People: From Schools to Prisons
4. Thinking Inside the Box
5. Corporations as Greed Machines
6. Globalization and Empire
7. Manufacturing Disposable People
8. The Real Tragedy of the Commons
9. What is to be Done?
Patrick Brantlinger is James Rudy Distinguished Professor (Emeritus) in the Department of English and Cultural Studies at Indiana University, USA.